Thursday, December 15, 2016

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part XC

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

New York, Spring, 1967 (yes, still!)
I was getting a lot of work but I still found time to go places. On a Tuesday night I went to a concert at the State Theater at Lincoln Center with my friend, Fred Fagan.
On most other nights, I was hanging out with friends.
My friend Alan Blair had a green thumb and his apartment was full of healthy plants.
I also had a lot of plants with grow lights on timers and if I had to leave town for a while, he was the one I trusted to care for them.
I met an art director for lunch and afterwards went to a screening of the movie, "ACCIDENT," with an interview and Q&A of the director Joseph Losey and writer Harold Pinter. Film writer and critic Andrew Sarris was the moderator.
Buddy Felio was still working at Burger Heaven but took time out of the next day to meet Paul and me at Serendipity III on East 60th Street.
I can see by my lettering that the Art Nouveau revival was interesting me. Serendipity III, known for its fantastic desserts and sweets, also sold quaintly unusual gifts and was one of the progenitors of everything Victorian and Art Nouveau!
I was into a very Aubrey Beardsley period!
A few weeks earlier, my good friend Joyce Burrell-MacDowell arrived in New York. She was in town on a buying trip and staying at the Berkshire Hotel.
Joyce was a buyer of women's clothes for I. Magnin in San Francisco and I'd known her since I was 16 working one summer in window display at Fresno's elegant women's specialty store, Rodder's Mademoiselle. Joyce was the head of the display department and we bonded immediately. Actually, there was just the two of us and another artistically bizarre young woman with yellow-orange hair named Fay who came and went.

Pauline Rodder was one of my mother's closest friends and the store's Creative Director, a not-so creative man who was also a so-called family friend, made my time there less fun than it might've been.

I say "so-called" as he seemed to think I'd had too easy a time in my life and he put me through a rigorous kind of window display boot camp being constantly critical and never approving anything! People who worked in the store even noticed and asked me what was going on.

Thank god there was Joyce with a raucous but discreet sense of humor who let me know how senseless the whole situation was.

One time, close to closing time, he decided I needed a lesson in making Plaster of Paris and poured a bag of it into a shoe box adding water.

"Now knead it with your hands!" he instructed.
I kneaded.
"Keep kneading!"
And kneaded ...
"Keep kneading!" he stressed!
And kneaded — but with more and more difficulty.
"KEEP KNEADING!!" he nearly shrieked!

I held up my hands, sunk in plaster, unable to remove them as the plaster had set. I was trapped.

He gave an angry look, walked out of the studio and went home while Joyce, now laughing hysterically, chipped me out of the plaster and freed me!

I met her at the Berkshire Hotel and we agreed that while she was somewhere being wined and dined (while I was going with Fred Fagan to La Mama Theater), we'd meet later.
The play we saw at LaMama was "COURT" by Tom Eyen, who was just beginning to be known and appreciated. I'd seen him in clubs in the Village, a darkly good looking guy, seemingly moody; and always alone. I had no idea who he was even though I'd heard of the playwright Tom Eyen. He seemed to materialize almost everywhere and just as easily, disappear. It took me a long time to connect the two, playwright and club goer!
After the play, I left Fred, connected with Joyce and we went downtown to Max's Kansas City on lower Park Avenue.
It was becoming well known in the national press and Joyce needed to be there and experience it. In a weird way it was the naughty downtown sibling of naughty-but-chic Elaine's uptown! Some of the people seen earlier in the evening at Elaine's might be seen later at Max's!
There was a rumor circulating around town that one could smoke a banana and get stoned! I'm assuming that a dried-out banana was what was meant, but Joyce, being logical, had a plaintive question.
The next day I got a call from my friend, Tom Krumwiede. It was a kind of a distress call!
Tom's beautiful wife Dale had bought a very expensive hat and Tom, not thinking, said, "I could make a better hat than that — and for much less money!"
Dale said, "okay, go ahead; DO IT!"

So Tom had called to ask me to help. We went down to the millinery and accessories neighborhood, bought a basic straw hat form and dozens of silk roses, covering the whole hat.

When Dale saw it, she loved it and returned the expensive one to Bergdorf's!
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